Arsenic exposure in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia

Lindberg, AL; Goessler, W; Gurzau, E; Koppova, K; Rudnai, P; Kumar, R; Fletcher, T; Leonardi, G; Slotova, K; Gheorghiu, E; Vahter, M; (2006) Arsenic exposure in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Journal of environmental monitoring, 8 (1). pp. 203-208. ISSN 1464-0325 DOI:

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Inorganic arsenic is a potent human carcinogen and toxicant which people are exposed to mainly via drinking water and food. The objective of the present study was to assess current exposure to arsenic via drinking water in three European countries. For this purpose, 520 individuals from four Hungarian, two Slovakian and two Romanian countries were investigated by measuring inorganic arsenic and methylated arsenic metabolites in urine by high performance liquid chromatography with hydride generation and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Arsenic in drinking water was determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. Significantly higher concentrations of arsenic were found in both the water and the urine samples from the Hungarian counties (median: 11 and 15 mu g dm(-3), respectively; p < 0.001) than from the Slovakian (median: 0.94 and 4.5 mu g dm(-3), respectively) and Romanian (median: 0.70 and 2.1 mu g dm(-3), respectively) counties. A significant correlation was seen between arsenic in water and arsenic in urine (R-2 = 0.46). At low water arsenic concentrations, the relative amount of dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) in urine was increased, indicating exposure via food. Also, high body mass index was associated with higher concentrations of arsenic in urine (p = 0.03), mostly in the form of DMA. Smokers had significantly higher urinary arsenic concentrations than non-smokers (p = 0.03). In conclusion, elevated arsenic exposure via drinking water was prevalent in some of the counties. Exposure to arsenic from food, mainly as DMA, and cigarette smoke, mainly as inorganic arsenic, are major determinants of arsenic exposure at very low concentrations of arsenic in drinking water.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
PubMed ID: 16395480
Web of Science ID: 235136000029


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